If you want to jam a stick in the spokes of the turning wheel we call litigation, how do you get the most bang for your buck?
Here's how: You hire a lawyer. But you don't pay him. And then you fire him. You retain a new one. Ignore her bills. Let her go. Repeat the process.
Again. And. Again.
It looks like a great plan. You get legal help that aids you in stopping efforts to cast you in judgment but costs you little or nothing. And getting a new lawyer up to speed slows things down further. If you can keep going this way, you just might wear your adversaries — and the judge — out.
What does a judge do when a serial-lawyer-firing litigant behaves in a stick-jamming-in-the-wheels-of-justice way like this? Order him not to fire any more lawyers? Direct him to pay the ones he let go? Enter a default judgment? Or address the problem head-on — by, say, putting his assets in the hands of a receiver for purposes of making him pay lawyers, past and current?
You can't do that last thing, the Fifth Circuit ruled today. It said:
We conclude that the receivership improperly targeted assets outside the scope of litigation to pay claims of Baron's former attorneys and control Baron's litigation tactics. This was an improper use of the receivership remedy. The order appointing a receiver is vacated.
Netsphere, Inc. v. Baron, No. 10-11202, slip op. 23-24 (5th Cir. Dec. 18, 2012).
The astonishing thing? The panel said no but offered their colleague very little guidance on what he could do to deal with an apparently very adept, ahem, user of the legal system. Merry Christmas, indeed.
Bonus: The Federal Circuit held that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office did not err in refusing to register a trademark in the phrase "C*#K SUCKER", which adorns chocolate lollipops in the shape of a rooster, on grounds of vulgarity. In re Fox, No. 12-1212 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 19, 2012). Imagine that.